Fred & Wilma, Day 5


10. 5th Day

Looks like today is day 5 of whatever this is.

I went out front to wander around the yard and see whats what. I saw my neighbor Nick and went over to say hi. They seemed to be making out okay. He said they had water for a while.

Me: "Have you heard anything about when they will run the wells again?"

"Not a thing. But Jesse down the street says Sam's Club still has food in stock, if you have cash."

My ears perked right up at that.

"You talking about the one in River Park?"

"That's what he said. But I don't have a membership there, do you?"

"No, I don't. But I think one of my daughters has a Costco membership, and that's right across the street. Been nice talking to you, but I'm gonna go check gas level in a car, and head that way to check it out. See you later."

 When I got home, I gathered the guys and told them what Nick had said. Kathleen and Leigh both had Costco cards, but not Sam's Club.

"Kathleen, can we take your truck, it has the largest bed. I figure it will take 2 gallons of gas to get there and back but if we can stock up it's worth it."

"Yes, let's get going. Maybe we can beat the rush."

"Hold up a second, I'll get some cash." I went to my cash stash and took out $2500.00. I had no idea if we could buy that much, but I thought bribe money might be necessary.

 She still had an almost full tank from the last trip to town. So Kathleen, Leigh, me, and Wallace decided to go, with everyone else on high alert. We didn't take a radio as they only reach about 1 mile.

 Take ave. 12 down to 41, then south to River Park.  Very little traffic going in any direction. We get to the Costco parking lot, and I didn't see any activity. I mean, there were a few cars here and there, but nobody around them. We got closer to the door and saw a man standing at the door. We stopped, went up to him and he asked if we were costco members. The girls showed their cards and he said

"Okay, you can come in and shop, but I have to have a clerk go with you and add everything up. It is cash only, with a $500 limit. Can you do that?"

"Yes, that is okay with us. Does the $500 include any tax or anything?"

"No, you can go $500, taxable items will be taxed over the $500.00."

 We had a brief huddle so we could come up with a game plan. We decided to concentrate on canned meat if they had it, then canned veggies, bags of beans and rice, flour. After that would be consumable items, such as batteries, and soap.

 Kathleen and Wallace went in together, with a clerk following them. They had one headlamp and one flashlight. It was pretty dark in there even though the roof had several skylight type things to let some sun thru.

 I started talking to the guy.

"How is it you still have food? I would have thought it would all be gone by now?"

"Well, you see, it's like this. My regional manager came by the day after all this shit happened, and he told me, I'm the store manager, that we would be getting about 3 supply trucks daily, for at least 2 weeks, and that I am to keep the store open. Most of my employees have come to work every day, and they are getting paid in food at the moment, at least until I get some sort of direction from my regional manager. And with the $500 limit, not all of it gets sold by the end of the day. And we have in fact been getting two trucks daily, sometimes three. That's why we got food."

 Well, don't that beat all. A clerk came up and said it was our turn, so Leigh, and I went in. About twenty minutes later we had our $500 loaded up, plus tax, paid the manager, and went to the truck where Kathleen and Wallace were waiting.

 After getting everything loaded up we went across the street to Sam's Club. It was kind of the same thing there, but more people were in line. I went up to the guy at the door and explained to him that we were not members, but would like to sign up. He said not a problem, give me $50 bucks per person and you are now a member. So I gave him $200 and he pocketed the money, and smiled at me. I asked if there was a limit on how much we could buy and he said it was $250.00 per person.

 We waited our turn and we each went in individually with a clerk adding purchases as we went.

Another $1000 bucks of food sounds like a lot, but when you look at it loaded in the truck it doesn't look like a lot at all. Especially for ten people.

 We drove home without incident. On the way back into our little burb we passed by the Valero station, and saw a couple of cars at the gas pumps, pumping gas. What the hell?

Kathleen was driving and I asked her to turn around and go back. We pulled in to the pumps and I went in and asked the clerk what was going on. He said he had a generator hooked up to his store and was now able to pump gas. At $10 a gallon. I asked how long he would be open, he said until about 4pm.

 We finally made it home, and got everything unloaded. I told the rest of the crew about the gas station and said I thought we should  gas up anything we could. James said we had 2 empty 5 gallon containers, so we took those. I grabbed more cash, and 4 of us headed down to fill up. Between the two cans and the four cars, we only took about 50 gallons of gas. I paid the guy for his overpriced gas, and said "Nice doin' business with you."

 When we all got home, I went next door and told Nick about Costco, Sam's Club, and the Valero station. Then I went to several more neighbors houses and told them, and down to Jesse's place to tell him. They were all glad to hear the news. As I walked home, I heard several vehicles fire up and head out.

 Hell, with all that running around I need a nap. Since nothing appeared to be of urgency at the moment, I laid down, and next thing I know I'm waking up and gotta go pee. As usual. Appears like I was out for about twenty minutes. Well crap, at least I'm not sleepy now. I guess.

 It is now noon o'clock. Wilma and the grandgirls fired up the barbie and got some lunch going. While they were doing that I took a look at the two solar systems. The batteries all had enough water, the charge controls were functioning and the inverters were going good. The two refrigerators and one freezer were all cold. We had plenty of electricity for what we needed at the moment. I told that to Wilma. She asked if we had enough electricity and water to do one load of laundry? I thought about it and said I thought we had that very thing, but lets do it now so we don't run out of sun.

 Wilma left the lunch preparation to the grandgirls and she and I went to the laundry room where she proceeded to load the washer with clothes. While she was doing that I grabbed Kathleen and she and I siphoned enough water out of the barrel to fill the washer. And then siphoned enough more for the rinse cycles. Wilma punched the start button and nothing happend. Oh crap now what. Wiggled the plug on the extension cord and it started right up. Thats a relief.

 I have the washer going on the system that has ten batteries, it still pulls it down, but not as bad as the eight battery system. Wilma is happy, so I'm happy.

 After lunch Kathleen, Leigh and the grandgirls go out to handwater the rows of beans. I stay away from that, because I know I would keel right over and hit the ground.

 Renee is watering, then looks up at me and says "What's that sound?"

"I don't hear anything."

"Listen, over that way."

Omry and Autumn join in and say they hear it also. So I go out front because that's the direction they say, and then I hear it.  Sounds like it's coming from the direction of the well. The well! So I rush into the house and check the kitchen faucet, and we got water! Holy hell! I start yelling and the others come in to see what the crazy old man is yelling about. Wilma looks at me and says, "All of our containers are full except one. Get your ass out there and get it filled old man!"

"Old Man?" I look around and everyone else is gone. "Old woman, I got your old man right here!" And give her the biggest ole kiss I can.

Everyone knows about the water. Elfonzo goes out and lights the water heater. In about 15 minutes  I hear the shower start up. Good job everybody.

 I ask James to come with me and we grab his car and head over to the well. The crew running the well is only one guy. So we stop in to chat with him.

"Howdy, how's the well business today?"

"It's going all right, who're you?"

"I'm Fred and this is my grandson James. You ran the well yesterday, I didn't think you would run it again today. What's up with that?"

"Well, I'm not certain. All I know is, I have been told to run this well everyday from 11am to 3 pm, except saturday and sunday cause those are my days off."

"Would have been nice to know that before. Why didn't someone say anything?"

"I don't know, that's above my paygrade. I asked my boss where we were getting the fuel to run the generator, but he didn't know the answer to that. He said we are getting enough fuel for now to run a generator for water wells everywhere the county controls the water district, not including the cities, they got their own wells. So if I was you I would let everybody around here know."

 "About fuel. The valero station has a generator running and they are selling fuel. Maybe that's how the county is getting it."

"Could be, don't know."

"Is it just this well or some others here in the Ranchos?"

"It's just this one for now, until we get another generator. This well has the most output of all of them, including the new well. So this is it for a while. "

"Okay, 11 to 3 daily, but not sat. or sun. Good to know. Would you like a cold drink before you go? We have some cold ice tea at home I can send over?"

"You got tea bags left? Heck yeah I'll take some ice tea. Unsweet is okay if you got it. "

"Well, we didn't have teabags left, we picked some up at costco today."

"Costcos open?? I didn't know that!!"

"And Sam's Club too, down in River Park. Cash only, purchase limits at both places. 500 at costco, 250 at sam's."

"Well crap, I don't know if I can get there today. You think they'll be open tomorrow?"

"The guy said they are getting trucks daily, so yeah, I think they will be open tomorrow. This is the one in River Park, I don't know about the one on Shaw by 99."

"I went to WalMart in Madera this morning, but they were almost out of stuff. They had a sign on the door that they will be closing today at 4pm and not reopen until they get supplies. And the sign said they didn't know when that would be."

"Do you know if Save Mart or Vons is still open? Or the Vallarta grocery store?"

"I think those are all closed now."

"How about Harbor Freight? You think it might be open?" I was thinking we might need some more syphon pumps if they had them. I know they used to carry other styles of plastic pumps too.

"You know, I drove by there this morning, and it looked to me like they were open. But I was kindof far away."

"Okay, thank you, I will send someone over with some tea for you."

 With that, we went home. James went in and got the guy a couple of plastic taco bell drink cups and filled them with tea. He and Marie drove them back over to the guy.

 While they did that, I told the fam about the water situation, and that I thought we should tell the neighbors. So me and the grandgirls started in doing just that. We went over to Nick and Ambers place and told them. They were as shocked about that as I was. While we were there I noticed Autumn was giving googoo eyes to Nicks oldest boy, but he acted like he didn't see her. Then we went to Alec's place, then Darren's place, and we just kept going down the block letting people know. Most places the people hadn't checked their water lately and they were all surprised. I asked a few of them to help out with notifications and they started down some of the other blocks.

 I looked at the water situation with favor, because this meant no one would be trying to steal water from my barrels. Yet.

 While we were doing that Kathleen and Leigh had hooked up a water hose to a faucet and were watering the rows of beans that way. Smart girls.

 Me and the grandgirls got home and went inside, where I heard Gammy Wilma cussing up a blue streak. I asked what was the problem and she told me she was tired of tripping over the damn gone extension cords. I said okay, I can fix that.

 In my shed I had an old 100 foot extension cord that had both ends cut off, I forget what pissed offedness I was about when I did that. I wasn't sure if the cord was good so I grabbed my multitester and checked continuity of the cord. It was good. So I then measured the distance across the roof to the breaker panel, it was approximately seventy feet.

 At the breaker panel I turned off the main breaker back to the grid, then I turned off all of the breakers in the panel. I removed the back panel of the breaker panel, exposing all the wires and the two busses. Then I threaded the extension cord into the panel and wired the hot wire into the outlet of one breaker on one bus and then ran a wire from that to a breaker on the other bus and the neutral and ground to the neutral and ground of the panel.

 After that I turned off the inverter which got a chorus of "What happened to the light" from inside. I wired the cord to the hardwire terminals on the inverter. After that I unplugged the extension cords, gave a silent prayer to the gods of solar electricity, and turned the inverter back on. Of course, with all the breakers off, nothing happened. I grabbed Elfonzo and a radio and stationed him at the breaker panel.

 I instructed him to wait for my call, then we would turn on one breaker at a time to check. I showed him the one that controlled the fridge and freezer in the garage and said to do that one first. Then I showed him the one that controlled the fridge in the kitchen, and said do that one second.

 At the fridge in the garage, I radioed go ahead, and voila! we had solar electricity to the fridge and freezer. The kitchen is next, he turned that on and there we also had solar electricity! I went to the inverter and it had normal wattage for those three items showing. Because of the limitations of my charge controller, which limited the charging watts from the panels to the  batteries to 750 watts, I did not want to have the plug for the clothes washer on the same sysem. So I taped over the plug outlet and placed a sign that said do not use this plug for the washer.

 I didn't want Wilma tripping over extension cords again so I decided to use the smaller inverter for the washer while the large inverter is being used for fridge, freezer and lights and fans. The small inverter is 3000 watts 6000 surge watts. The large inverter is 4000 watts 8000 surge watts. With that in mind I grabbed a fifty foot cord and ran it over the roof to the laundry room, down the outside of the wall, thru the cracked open window, and taped  it to the sheetrock wall at the washer and plugged the washer into it. I know, my redneck upbringing is showing.  At the moment the washer is off thank goodness.

 The cord wasn't quite long enough to reach the inverter so I found a 25 foot cord and added that to it, and was able to reach the small inverter, and plug it in. Then I used black electricians tape and taped up the cord connectors on the roof. Grabbing my multimeter I checked for voltage at the end of the cord and had 121.5 volts. Good enough.

 With all that going on I had forgotten to turn some lights back on, so Elfonzo and I did the radio relay again where he would turn breakers on and I would check what ran on that breaker. Once we figured  that out we determined which breakers to leave on for now.

 I don't know about everyone else, but I am getting hungry. Kathleen and Leigh have supper started and when it was ready I ate with gusto.

 I asked Kathleen how her dogs and cats were making out. She said so far so good. All of the cats were still here and all of the dogs were. Including the mean ass chihuahua called Hazel. Vicious dog. Barks at everything.

 She said next time we go to the store I need to get some bags of dog food. I said why don't we go early in the morning? And her reply was "Dad, I don't have any cash."

 I said,"Me and Mom have been saving cash for almost fifty years now, and I figure now is the best time to use it if we can. We got enough cash to last till this thing is over or nobodys accepting cash anymore. So lets go in the morning."

"Okay. Wow."

 I looked at the watch rotation for later, I was not on it. Good, I might get a decent sleep tonight.

 When it got dark, I went out front and looked at the stars. They were simply amazing. I decided to take a turn around the neighborhood and see if anyone was out. I went in and grabbed my headlight, and asked Wallace and Elfonzo to go with me.  Elfonzo said he would, Wallace said he had watch later so he wanted to stay. Leigh asked if she could come. They both had flashlights, so off we headed to wild darkness.

 We took off down OrangeGrove to the west, headed for 36. No one was out that we saw, and no lights showing anywhere. Turned north on 36 and headed for 12. Turned right on 12 and headed east. A pair of headlights was approaching, and slowed when they reached us. Turns out it was a sheriffs car, and he was interested in why we were out, maybe we were looting he said. So I said, maybe you are the one looting under color of law, and he didn't like that too much.

 I changed the course of the conversation and asked if he had any information about what was going on. The last he heard was the grid would be down for a couple of months at least, if not more. So I said we were headed home, and he said so was he.

 I thought to myself if it doesn't get any worse than this, I think we can make it okay. 

Looks like only time will tell, but for now, everthing is doing all right. 

The End

1 comment: